Work starts on Buttermarket conversion with a new home for New Look

Conversion work has started at the Buttermarket centre.

Conversion work has started at the Buttermarket centre.

Work to convert the Buttermarket Centre into a leisure-based mall has started.

The ground floor of the former Allders and TJ Hughes department stores is being converted into a single-storey large shop which is expected to be occupied by TK Maxx, which currently trades on the first floor of the centre.

The plans approved by Ipswich council’s planning committee earlier this month show the area currently occupied by TK Maxx becoming part of the cinema.

Another large unit is being created by merging the former Starbucks cafe, small store units at the Butter Market Street entrance and ground floor cafe into a single unit – with a first floor area above.

That has been earmarked for New Look, whose unit on the other side of the centre is due to be converted into two family restaurants according to the plans approved by Ipswich council earlier this month.

Contractors have now moved into the centre and these two units are now being converted in the first stage of a multi-million pound conversion programme which is expected to take until the end of 2016.

The Boots and Holland & Barrett stores in the centre are expected to be the only internal stores to remain in their current position throughout the conversion.

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Once the conversion work has been completed and the large stores have moved, the Arras Square entrance to the centre will be dominated by family-themed restaurants on the ground floor.

On the first floor, from the former food court to the top of the Laura Ashley store, a new gym will be created.

The access to the underground car park will be moved from its current position to a new site near the Arras Square entrance – giving easy access to the cinema foyer and restaurants to make it more attractive to evening visitors.

The work at the Buttermarket has started at the same time as the work on the town’s other major shopping centre, Tower Ramparts, gets under way – that is being turned into the “Sailmakers” centre as part of a £4 million refurbishment.